When applying for a job, your potential employer will check references. What if they want to know more about who you are? It is likely they will check social media; which is why having a profile on LinkedIn can be a great tool to promote yourself.
LinkedIn bills itself as “the world’s largest professional network.” It is a platform that seeks to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” It was launched in 2003 and has been used by more than 706 million individuals for everything from finding a job to finding a provider of services.
Your LinkedIn profile is a wonderful place where you can tout your successes and show recommendations from colleagues, customers, or employers. Think of it as your online resume – plus it's interactive!
Just like your resume, there are tricks and tips to help you stand out among those 706 million users.
Here are some pointers:
- Choose a good picture for your profile
LinkedIn has some tips for picking the right picture. Most of the tips are common sense, but it is important that your picture reflects how you look on a daily basis. Which means it should be current (not your childhood nostalgia photo), high-resolution, and your face should take up at least 60 percent of the space. Just like you want to make a good first impression when you show up for an interview, you want your picture to make a good first impression when someone views your profile.
- Use a headline that grabs attention and follow it up with an interesting summary
The headline shows up right underneath your name on your LinkedIn profile. It is usually the first thing that anyone reads. It will default to your current position unless you put something else in its place. With 120 characters of space, this is the perfect place to put a mini-billboard advertisement for yourself.
The summary then gives you a place to tell your story, so make it count. It can be up to 2,000 characters, making it a great opportunity to tell what you do well and what talents you can offer. This is where you want to be sure to incorporate key words that employers and recruiters would search for when looking to fill a position in your field. But do not use a too many buzzwords. Know who you want your audience to be and then write your best ad for yourself in a way that makes them want to meet and hire you.
- Make your profile like your resume – but better
Just like you want your resume to highlight your accomplishments, you want your profile to tell people why you would be a great addition to their team. But your profile is a bit less formal, so you can use the first person and can be a bit more personal in the approach.
William Arruda, writing for Forbes, says, “Your profile is not a resume or CV. Write as if you are having a conversation with someone. Inject your personality. Let people know your values and passions. In your summary, discuss what you do outside of work. You want people to want to know you.”
And when you are ready with your amazing profile, we can help you prepare for that nerve-racking interview!
- Make connections and ask for recommendations
Start with connecting to people you know personally and those you have worked with or met in your professional capacity. If you believe you must connect with someone you have not met, you should always include a note that tells them who you are and why you want to connect with them. (And “I think connecting with you would be great for my career goals” is not a good reason.)
You will want around 25 connections to start with and continue to connect with others as time goes on. Remember, if too many people decline to connect with you because they do not know you, LinkedIn can shut down your account. Start with your email contacts and Facebook friends first to start building connections. Getting to 500 is the goal as that is the maximum LinkedIn will show you have. After that, it says 500+ and looks great to anyone viewing your profile.
Ask people you have worked with to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn and it is okay to ask for something specific. If you have provided service above and beyond what was expected, go ahead and ask your customer to say so on LinkedIn.
The goal with recommendations is not to have a massive list of skills, but to have particular skills or experiences you want to highlight supported by strategic recommendations on your profile page. LinkedIn will send you the recommendation before its made public on your profile, so you can decide whether to publish it, dismiss it, or ignore it by leaving it pending.
- Join LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn has a group for just about every interest. You will want to find ones that directly relate to your profession or your industry. Also, check for local groups, not just national or state-wide.
Being in a group allows you to connect with people who are not part of your contacts. But you cannot just be a lurker in a group, you need to engage with others. Review the conversations going on and either comment or ask a question. You can also start a group conversation by posting a question or sharing an interesting article that is relevant to the group topic.
A bonus to joining a group is that many have a separate section where the members can post job openings. A lot of recruiters will also post openings in targeted groups, especially if they are looking for specific or local talent.
These pointers will get you started on this networking platform. There is a paid side that gives you more bells and whistles, but the free version is all you will need if you are just getting started.
Plus, when you have a job interview, you can use LinkedIn to research the company and the person interviewing you.
Need more stuff to put on your profile? Check out how you can gain relevant experience!